Seabed Survey Licences

We provide permissions for temporary activities which physically interact with the seabed, including for geophysical, ecological and meteorological studies, as well as larger scale archaeological projects.

Seabed Survey Licences enable applicants to undertake a range of small scale, temporary activities offshore, which physically interact with the seabed, for a maximum period of up to 12 months.

Seabed Survey Licences cover a range of activities, including but not limited to geophysical, ecological and meteorological studies, as well as larger scale archaeological projects. They enable the applicant to temporarily occupy the relevant seabed for the purposes of undertaking the intended works, covered by the agreement.

Within the 12 nautical mile limit, all survey activity that interacts with the seabed requires a Seabed Survey Licence, unless the works fall within the public rights of navigation or fishing.

Outside of 12 nautical mile (i.e. beyond the territorial limit) survey activity only requires a licence if it relates to an activity over which The Crown Estate holds rights, such as offshore renewable energy, marine mineral extraction, or gas and carbon storage. Non-commercial research activity outside 12 nautical miles does not require a licence.

For survey activity taking place on the nearshore, such as tidal rivers, estuaries and harbours, please take a look at our Coastal Survey Licence page.



  • To apply for a Seabed Survey License, please use our application form – see download link in the 'Useful information' pane for the current version. Please send all applications and inquiries to [email protected]
  • Please be aware that it can take The Crown Estate around 4-6 weeks to issue a licence of this kind, though from May to September it may be longer due to increased demand. Please ensure that you leave sufficient time for your application to be processed and any conditions to be discharged before commencing the proposed activity.
  • Application fees: Standard rate £500 / Concessionary rate* £100


Longer term activity offshore

  • Longer term activities in relation to commercial projects may need a different type of agreement. Please contact the consents team for more information.
  • The Crown Estate now offers an offshore Seabed Survey Licence PLUS which allows deployment of survey equipment (usually in the form of a buoy) for a maximum period of up to 3 years. These can be applied for using the standard application form and are considered on a case by case basis.
  • Application fees: Standard rate £750 / Concessionary rate* £300


Additional consents

  • In addition to a Seabed Survey Licence, you may also require other consents from statutory authorities, such as marine licences from the Marine Management Organisation, Natural Resource Wales or Department of Energy for Northern Ireland, and/or permissions from the Environment Agency or a Harbour Authority. It is your responsibility to verify the need for any additional statutory consents and, where required, to obtain these consents. Each seabed survey licence will be conditional on you obtaining all required statutory consents and complying with any conditions within them.


*Concessionary rates apply if:

  • You are an independent researcher undertaking works for an academic not for profit research project e.g. BSc, MSc and educational research courses
  • You are a Local Council or similar public body undergoing not for profit research to develop understanding of coastline that helps the surrounding area e.g. coastal defence, Civil Hydrography Programme
  • You are completing not for profit archaeological/wreck investigations for no commercial purposes


The Crown Estate logo on a wall

Phillip Turner

Policy Development Manager, Marine

Unless stated otherwise, all material on this website is the property of The Crown Estate. The material may be used, provided it is reproduced accurately and appropriate acknowledgement is given. You may not sell the information to a third party. By continuing on this website you are agreeing to our Terms of use.

We also use cookies on this website to enhance your user experience. By continuing on this website you are agreeing to the use of these cookies. For more information please read our Cookie policy.

Close Close banner
Back to top